About Kathleen Mercury
Innovative, experienced educator adept with gifted education, design, and traditional subjects.
Student work examples (board Games)
When I tell others about what I do as a teacher, I am often met with disbelief, because most teachers don't teach tabletop game design, develop augmented reality design on iPads, use RPGs to explore philosophical questions, turn a classroom into a cosplay design studio, or have students create silent suspense films. I do all of these things because I teach design thinking to create functional art as my students explore the intersection of narrative, construction, and self-expression.
I have been teaching middle school students in the gifted program at Ladue Middle School for fourteen years. As a (former?) gifted kid myself, I loved my gifted classes, especially my middle school gifted classes, as they provided fun and challenge and a respite to the turbulent world of regular middle school right outside the gifted classroom door.
As a grownup (ish), during my teacher education program at Webster University, I realized that if I taught gifted, I could have fun all day long! So I earned not just my original Social Studies certification, but Gifted, General Science, and Language Arts certifications as well as two Masters (Masters of Arts in Teaching, Masters in Educational Technology). And while my degrees and certifications represent what I can teach, my dedication is and always will be to who I teach.
I want my students to leave my class with confidence to take on any type of challenge presented to them and to know they have the skillset to create an effective solution. More than just the cool products we create, design thinking is all about mindfulness of process and the willingness to iterate work through collaboration and feedback to meet the needs of the user. My students need to be prepared for anything, not just the next thing.
I strive for my students to create work that is real-world, authentic, and meaningful to them. I give my students the knowledge and materials needed to work within a specific medium. There is no right answer, only what they create and can defend. Through the process, I consult and empower them to make their own decisions, however students have complete ownership over their work, and can effectively communicate and reflect on the development process they undertook. When students share their work with the larger community, they are taken seriously because their work holds up against professionals in the field. They have become creators of content, not just consumers, and have put their own ideas out into the world. If they can do this in 7th grade, think how encouraging this is for the rest of their lives!
As a teacher, I hold myself to the same standard. I am constantly evolving and pushing myself to take on new challenges, from creating innovative curriculum in the classroom to adapting and transforming it fit the needs of students learning remotely during the pandemic. Rather than being stymied by the lack of in-person teaching, I see it as an opportunity to transform education to realistically fit the promises of the 21st century and beyond.
Empowering students to become independent thinkers and lifelong learners is my passion. I'm humbled by the opportunities I've had thus far. I'm seeking additional opportunities to spread my impact which makes the possibility of teaching internationally feel both inspiring and exciting. My sister, who has been teaching internationally for 20 years, has helped open my eyes to the possibilities that lie outside of my current domain, not just within the school hours, but beyond.
Happiness comes from being able to choose the life you want to live. I think I do that, and I'm a pretty happy person. As such, I have chosen to share these resources that I have developed over the years, rather than publish them in some stagnant lesson plan book, in the hopes that others can and will use them.
My Wonder Woman/Rosie the Riveter mashup for Cosplay.
My first augmented reality test project (still image).
My virtual learning teaching setup.
Running a game design jam (along with designers Jonathan Gilmour and Erica Bouyaris)